Is It Good for Your Back to Sleep in a Hammock?

Written By Matthew Cordero

Sleeping in a hammock has become a popular alternative for campers as they spend time outdoors, though it’s also become a preferred way for many to sleep or nap indoors. However, many still aren’t sure if it’s good for your back. 

Sleeping in a hammock can be good for your back if you tend to wake up with a sore back and stiff limbs from sleeping on a traditional mattress, as long as it’s set up properly. It can even be more comfortable for people with back pain. But it isn’t recommended if you already have spinal issues.

man asleep in hammock

There are other things to consider before deciding if sleeping in a hammock is good for you. Read on below to learn more. 

Is Sleeping in a Hammock Better for Your Back?

Hammocks have exploded in popularity worldwide over the last few years, especially now as more people are spending time outdoors. While they are famously used during camping trips and traveling, more people are also seeing the benefit of sleeping on a hammock indoors while napping, or even replacing the traditional mattress altogether.

But is it bad for your back to sleep in a hammock?

There’s no black or white answer for this, but let’s dive deeper into why.

How Sleeping in a Hammock Can Be Good for Your Back

Sleeping on a hammock can be beneficial for your back because of many reasons:

  1. 1
    Reduced pressure: Hammocks spread out pressure points throughout its length and width, allowing your body to do the same when you lay back in one and relax. Hammocks are meant to conform to your body shape and contours instead of your body adapting to a harder surface, such as a traditional mattress. All in all, this helps to greatly reduce pressure on your back as you sleep.
  2. 2
    Ergonomics: Sleeping on a hammock has a cradle-like effect which reduces movement while you sleep. Because of this, you’re less likely to sleep in positions that may cause you back pain when you wake up.
  3. 3
    Ideal sleeping position: Doctors recommend back sleeping for optimum back health, particularly when your head is elevated around 10-30%. This position improves blood circulation throughout the body especially your back. Using a pillow also helps with elevating your head.
  4. 4
    Spine health: When side sleepers or stomach sleepers sleep on a hammock, they usually find themselves sleeping on their back. The way hammocks are designed make it easier and more comfortable to sleep on your back, and it’s better than other positions as it decreases pressure on the spine. People with existing back pain can find great comfort from sleeping on a hammock.

Having said all of that, it’s important to note that the type of hammock used and how you sleep on it have a tremendous impact on your back health.

Best Type of Hammock for Sleeping 

There are many different kinds of hammocks out there, and some are better for your back while sleeping while others are more appropriate for relaxation.

The best hammocks for your back while sleeping are those without spreader bars and those made with soft fabric or cotton cords. Spreader bars flatten out the hammock surface, eliminating the ability of the hammock to contour to your body as you sleep and can thus cause back pain. In addition, sleeping on soft fabric or cotton cords for long periods of time is more comfortable for your back, and provides added stability.

These are better known as camping or Brazilian hammocks – something to keep in mind when shopping around.

How to Sleep on a Hammock to Protect Your Back

You can get a better night’s rest while protecting your back on a hammock by following these simple tips:

  • Lie down diagonally on your back across the hammock, instead of straight horizontally.
  • Rest your head on a pillow for added head and neck support.
  • Sleep with a rolled-up blanket or pillow under your knees for extra support for your back.
  • Side sleepers and those who move frequently during the night are better off using a two-person hammock for extra space.

Can Sleeping in a Hammock Hurt Your Back?

There are certain situations when sleeping on a hammock may actually hurt your back: 

  1. 1
    If you have pre-existing back problems: Scoliosis, pinched spinal nerve, or other issues affecting your spine and the nerves on your back are conditions wherein sleeping on a hammock can damage your back. In fact, it can be dangerous by making the pains and problems worse. In this case, your doctor may recommend a specific type of mattress to assist with your recovery.
  2. 2
    With a partner: Sleeping on a double hammock with a partner may not be good for your back. If you intend to sleep on a hammock for the long-term, it’s best to opt for a solo hammock that allows you maximum space and comfort for your back.
  3. 3
    Frequent movement: If you are the type of sleeper that moves frequently throughout the night, a hammock may not be safe. Frequent movement on a hammock increase the risk of falls compared to a stationary bed, so you co
  4. 4
    Personal preference: How comfortable one is on a hammock, even when it’s of the best quality and proper setup, is a purely personal preference at the end of the day. Every human body is different from the other, which is why some may find it more comfortable and alleviates back pain while another person of the same height and weight can find it causes discomfort. If your body simply doesn’t feel comfortable no matter what position you use on a hammock, listen to it and prevent back problems in the future by simply avoiding it.
  5. 5
    Nightly sleeping: If you want to start using a hammock instead of a traditional mattress for sleeping at night, you should talk to your chiropractor or doctor first. You may have some back issues that you are unaware of, and sleeping on a hammock nightly could actually damage your back.

Best Hammocks for Sleeping on Your Back

There are numerous hammocks out there that can support your back while you sleep on them. Brazilian and camping hammocks are among the best; here are some that you can find on Amazon:

-       ENO DoubleNest Lightweight Camping Hammock
-       Vivere Double Polyester Hammock
-       Best Choice 2-Person Brazilian Hammock 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it good for your back to sleep in a hammock long-term?

There are no studies indicating that sleeping in a hammock long-term is bad for your back. In fact, many cultures around the world sleep in hammocks every day, especially in Central and South America. Many people find it more comfortable, and better for their backs, compared to traditional mattresses.

With this in mind, you should use the right hammock for daily sleeping. Hammocks with spreader bars are not the best choice for long-term use especially for your back. You should also choose light and breathable fabric for added comfort. In addition, hang the hammock loose and be sure to set it up correctly.

More sag in the hammock will make way for more comfortable sleep and a relaxed back, while a tight hammock will hinder movement far too much. The hammock should resemble a curved banana when you’re laying on it.

However, sleeping in a hammock long-term can cause damage to your back if you already suffer from spine and nerve issues. If you have any existing back problems, it’s best to clear it out with your chiropractor first.